zaterdag 8 september 2012

Granddads and a little bit about Crochet History

I was contemplating this morning what to write about, and the idea to dig into the history of crochet came up in an instant.

And I just got off the phone with my granddad. My granddad, age 86, talked mostly about my grandmother (in her nineties) and well, it isn't going great and it is not going really bad. Somewhere in between. But still, taking care of his wife who had an ischemic stroke of the brain twice, is very hard. She is not and will not recover completely. It is hard to hear that my granddad is just coping barely, but stubborn as he is, he will not accept help. Still, he is my granddad and I have utter respect for what he is doing, and love him and my grandma to bits. I learned lots of them.

Two weeks ago, we visited Big Man's granddad (also in his nineties). We call him Pépé, the French word for grandfather. Little Man adores going to his house, because his house is full of old art, household stuff, antiquities etc. And he has a long hall where you can run from door to door or ride with Lego cars. This time Pépé had a small gift for me and a belated holiday gift.

This was the first thing:

Front page
It's a little booklet with knitting and crochet patterns. It is the second printing, and if it is really as old as it says in the introduction, it is from 1926. It is a booklet from Big Man's grandmother Grietje, who passed away when Big Man was a teenager. I was thrilled when I opened it!

Introduction with the publishing date of the second printing
The pattern booklet was made by "Artsilk" and after a Google search I found out a copy of the same booklet is in the Textielmuseum in Breda. It really is from 1926! I cannot find anything about the firm Artsilk but Wikipedia says it is also the name for a specific type of fiber. It is actually viscose, but was promoted as art silk, in short for artificial silk. Silk was way too expensive, so around 1890 the first artificial silk was sold. The name changed to rayon in the US around 1924, and to viscose in Europe.
Cool huh?

Knitted doily

The patterns are mostly doilies, but it amazed me that the knitted doilies were so much more elaborated than the crocheted ones. There is only one more contemporary crocheted doily with the pineapple stitch and a fancy center. According to Wikipedia, elaborate patterns were published between 1910 and 1920 in England, but with the First World War coming and ending, patterns from 1920 and later were more simplified versions from patterns dating earlier than 1910. The full blooming era of crochet started after the Second World War, with a peak during the seventies, a decline after that and now a resurgence with the coming of Ravelry, modern crochet designers and more attention to homecrafting.

Crocheted doily
Pépé also gave me a belated holiday present and I thought it would be nice to spent it on a really nice crochet hook set. My first real complete and pretty set if you know what I mean.

Tulip Etimo crochet hook set
I got myself a set of Tulip Etimo crochet hooks. In a very nice pink case with a scissor and some needles. And I got me some Hamanaka Soft Touch hooks. They look really funny. They are double sided crochet hooks, but with a different size on each end. Japanese are very gifted at crocheting and creating patterns. Their patterns are so much more nifty and elaborate than US and European patterns. And their crochet hooks are the best.

Hamanaka crochet hooks
Now, this means I really need to reproduce a pattern from this lovely booklet with my new crochet hooks!

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